Toni Lyn Morelli

Toni Lyn Morelli
United States Geological Survey | USGS · Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center

PhD

About

82
Publications
29,150
Reads
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2,423
Citations
Additional affiliations
April 2015 - December 2023
United States Geological Survey
Position
  • Research Ecologist
October 2012 - April 2015
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Position
  • PostDoc Position
October 2011 - October 2012
US Forest Service
Position
  • Consultant

Publications

Publications (82)
Article
Significance International concern about the consequences of human-induced global environmental changes has prompted a renewed focus on reducing ecological effects of biological invasions, climate change, and nutrient pollution. Our results show that the combined effects of nonnative species invasions and abiotic global environmental changes are of...
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Climate change poses an increasing threat to achieving development goals and is often considered in development plans and project designs. However, there have been challenges in the effective implementation of those plans, particularly in the sustained engagement of the communities to undertake adaptive actions, but also due to insufficient scienti...
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Effective natural resource management and policy is contingent on information generated by research. Conversely, the applicability of research depends on whether it is responsive to the needs and constraints of resource managers and policy makers. However, many scientific fields including invasion ecology suffer from a disconnect between research a...
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Abstract Climate change uncertainty poses serious challenges to conservation efforts. One emerging conservation strategy is to identify and conserve climate change refugia: areas relatively buffered from contemporary climate change that enable persistence of valued resources. This management paradigm may be pursued at broad scales by leveraging exi...
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Aim Populations of cold‐adapted species at the trailing edges of geographic ranges are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change from the combination of exposure to warm temperatures and high sensitivity to heat. Many of these species are predicted to decline under future climate scenarios, but they could persist if they can...
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Aim In the face of global change, understanding causes of range limits are one of the most pressing needs in biogeography and ecology. A prevailing hypothesis is that abiotic stress forms cold (upper latitude/altitude) limits, whereas biotic interactions create warm (lower) limits. A new framework – Interactive Range‐Limit Theory (iRLT) – asserts t...
Chapter
The goals of boundary-spanning organizations include communicating among researchers, stakeholders, and resource managers to improve decision-making. These efforts span public agencies, environmental non-governmental organizations, and private stakeholders and occur throughout Canada, the USA, and Mexico. We describe how the core philosophy of boun...
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Background Among the most widely anticipated climate-related impacts to biodiversity are geographic range shifts, whereby species shift their spatial distribution in response to changing climate conditions. In particular, a series of commonly articulated hypotheses have emerged: species are expected to shift their distributions to higher latitudes,...
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Efforts to conserve biodiversity increasingly focus on identifying climate‐change refugia – areas relatively buffered from contemporary climate change over time that enable species persistence. Identification of refugia typically includes modeling the distribution of a species’ current habitat and then extrapolating that distribution given projecte...
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Climate‐change adaptation focuses on conducting and translating research to minimize the dire impacts of anthropogenic climate change, including threats to biodiversity and human welfare. One adaptation strategy is to focus conservation on climate‐change refugia (that is, areas relatively buffered from contemporary climate change over time that ena...
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The vast boreal biome plays an important role in the global carbon cycle but is experiencing particularly rapid climate warming, threatening the integrity of valued ecosystems and their component species. We developed a framework and taxonomy to identify climate‐change refugia potential in the North American boreal region, summarizing current knowl...
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As Earth’s climate rapidly changes, species range shifts are considered key to species persistence. However, some range-shifting species will alter community structure and ecosystem processes. By adapting existing invasion risk assessment frameworks, we can identify characteristics shared with high-impact introductions and thus predict potential im...
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Climate change is a pervasive and growing global threat to biodiversity and ecosystems. Here, we present the most up-to-date assessment of climate change impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecosystem services in the U.S. and implications for natural resource management. We draw from the 4th National Climate Assessment to summarize observed and...
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Invasive alien species are likely to interact with climate change, thus necessitating management that proactively addresses both global changes. However, invasive species managers’ concerns about the effects of climate change, the degree to which they incorporate climate change into their management, and what stops them from doing so remain unknown...
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The article Incorporating climate change into invasive species management: insights from managers, written by Evelyn M. Beaury
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Recent technological and methodological advances have revolutionized wildlife monitoring. Although most biodiversity monitoring initiatives are geared towards focal species of conservation concern, researchers are increasingly studying entire communities, specifically the spatiotemporal drivers of community size and structure and interactions among...
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Madagascar has experienced extensive deforestation and overharvesting, and anthropogenic climate change will compound these pressures. Anticipating these threats to endangered species and their ecosystems requires considering both climate change and habitat loss effects. The genus Varecia (ruffed lemurs), which is composed of two Critically Endange...
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In our recent article, we use in situ ecophysiological data from individual sugar maple trees across the species’ range to identify climate conditions that maximize the volume and sugar concentration of sap. Houle and Duchesne present a critique of our research that hinges on their own analysis of industry aggregate data on syrup production, from w...
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Phenological mismatches, when life‐events become mistimed with optimal environmental conditions, have become increasingly common under climate change. Population‐level susceptibility to mismatches depends on how phenology and phenotypic plasticity vary across a species’ distributional range. Here, we quantify the environmental drivers of colour mou...
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A central theme of range‐limit theory (RLT) posits that abiotic factors form high‐latitude/altitude limits, whereas biotic interactions create lower limits. This hypothesis, often credited to Charles Darwin, is widely assumed to occur in nature. However, abiotic factors can impose constraints on both limits and there is scant evidence to support th...
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Accounting for within-species variability in the relationship between occurrence and climate is essential to forecasting species’ responses to climate change. Few climate-vulnerability assessments explicitly consider intraspecific variation, and those that do typically assume that variability is best explained by genetic affinity. Here, we evaluate...
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Climate change is affecting the benefits society derives from forests. One such forest ecosystem service is maple syrup, which is primarily derived from Acer saccharum (sugar maple), currently an abundant and widespread tree species in eastern North America. Two climate sensitive components of sap affect syrup production: sugar content and sap flow...
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The use of remote cameras is widespread in wildlife ecology, yet few examples exist of their utility for collecting environmental data. We used a novel camera trap method to evaluate the accuracy of gridded snow data in a mountainous region of the northeastern US. We were specifically interested in assessing (1) how snow depth observations from rem...
Technical Report
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Forest ecosystems will face direct and indirect impacts from a changing climate over the 21st century. This assessment evaluates the vulnerability of forest ecosystems across the New England region (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, northern New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) under a range of future climates. We synthesized and su...
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Ecologists who specialize in translational ecology (TE) seek to link ecological knowledge to decision making by integrating ecological science with the full complement of social dimensions that underlie today's complex environmental issues. TE is motivated by a search for outcomes that directly serve the needs of natural resource managers and decis...
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We define a translational ecologist as a professional ecologist with diverse disciplinary expertise and skill sets, as well as a suitable personal disposition, who engages across social, professional, and disciplinary boundaries to partner with decision makers to achieve practical environmental solutions. Becoming a translational ecologist requires...
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Climate change refugia, areas buffered from climate change relative to their surroundings, are of increasing interest as natural resource managers seek to prioritize climate adaptation actions. However, evidence that refugia buffer the effects of anthropogenic climate change is largely missing. Focusing on the climate-sensitive Belding’s ground squ...
Technical Report
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The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a long history of advancing the traditional Earth science disciplines and identifying opportunities to integrate USGS science across disciplines to address complex societal problems. The USGS science strategy for 2007–2017 laid out key challenges in disciplinary and interdisciplinary arenas, culminating in a ca...
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Climate refugia management has been proposed as a climate adaptation strategy in the face of global change. Key to this strategy is identification of these areas as well as an understanding of how they are connected on the landscape. Focusing on meadows of the Sierra Nevada in California, we examined multiple factors affecting connectivity using ci...
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Some primate populations include both trichromatic and dichromatic (red– green colour blind) individuals due to allelic variation at the X-linked opsin locus. This polymorphic trichromacy is well described in day-active New World monkeys. Less is known about colour vision in Malagasy lemurs, but, unlike New World monkeys, only some day-active lemur...
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There is an error in reference 3. The correct reference is: Stein BA, Glick P, Edelson N, Staudt A, editors. Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice. National Wildlife Federation. Washington, D.C.2014.
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Refugia have long been studied from paleontological and biogeographical perspectives to understand how populations persisted during past periods of unfavorable climate. Recently, researchers have applied the idea to contemporary landscapes to identify climate change refugia, here defined as areas relatively buffered from contemporary climate change...
Technical Report
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The Department of Interior Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC) conducts research that responds to the regional natural resource management community’s needs to anticipate, monitor, and adapt to climate change. The NE CSC is supported by a consortium of partners that includes the University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Menominee Nation...
Conference Paper
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Background/Question/Methods Interest in the idea of climate change refugia has increased as natural resource managers seek targeted climate adaptation solutions. We used genetic and survey data to conduct a rare test of whether particular habitats are acting as refugia, buffering populations from recent climate change. We also examined whether hy...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Coastal ecosystems and the services they provide to humans are especially vulnerable to climate-related impacts from sea level rise, coastal erosion, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, as well as concomitant influences from human activities including land-use change, hardened shorelines, coastal barriers, ha...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Montane environments represent areas where climate change should impact species' ranges over short distances due to elevational gradients. However, topographically complex landscapes may produce refugia from climate change if habitat patches are sufficiently connected to promote metapopulation persistence. Focusing on...
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Lemurs are the most olfactory-oriented of primates, yet there is still only a basic level of understanding of what their scent marks communicate. We analyzed scent secretions from Milne-Edwards' sifakas (Propithecus edwardsi) collected in their natural habitat of Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. We sought to test whether the scent mark could s...
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We present findings from 25 years of studying 13 species of sympatric primates at Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. Long-term studies have revealed that lemur demography at Ranomafana is impacted by climate change, predation from raptors, carnivores, and snakes, as well as habitat disturbance. Breeding is seasonal, and each species (except Eule...
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While individually distinctive vocalizations have been used as a tool for the conservation and management of bird populations, few studies have investigated the potential of a bioacoustic tool for use with terrestrial mammals. Even relatively simple signals, such as alarm calls, have been shown to contain different types of information, and can eve...
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We conducted detailed resurveys of a montane mammal, Urocitellus beldingi, to examine the effects of climate change on persistence along the trailing edge of its range. Of 74 California sites where U. beldingi were historically recorded (1902-1966), 42 per cent were extirpated, with no evidence for colonization of previously unoccupied sites. Incre...
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U The Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the principle of multiple use management of the Nation’s forest resources for sustained yields of wood, water, forage, wildlife, and recreation. Through forestry research, cooperation with the States and private forest owners, and management of the National Forests and Natio...
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There is increasing evidence for morphological change in response to recent environmental change, but how this relates to fluctuations in geographic range remains unclear. We measured museum specimens from two time periods (1902–1950 and 2000–2008) that vary significantly in climate to assess if and how two high elevation contracting species of gro...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods The impacts of climate change on species are complex, manifested in changes not just in temperature and precipitation but also on habitat, food availability, and interspecific interactions. Unfortunately, baseline historical population data are rare. As part of the Grinnell Resurvey Project, I capitalized on detailed f...
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The aye-aye is considered the most widely distributed lemur in Madagascar; however, the effect of forest quality on aye-aye abundance is unknown. We compared aye-aye presence across degraded and non-degraded forest at Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. We used secondary signs (feeding sites, high activity sites) as indirect cues of aye-aye prese...
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Natural history collections are unparalleled repositories of geographical and temporal variation in faunal conditions. Molecular studies offer an opportunity to uncover much of this variation; however, genetic studies of historical museum specimens typically rely on extracting highly degraded and chemically modified DNA samples from skins, skulls o...
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We summarize morphometric data collected over a period of 22 years from a natural population of rainforest sifakas (Propithecus edwardsi) at Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar, and we use those data to document patterns of growth and development. Individually identified, known-age sifakas were successfully captured, measured, and released. We fou...
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This guidebook contains science-based principles, processes, and tools necessary to assist with developing adaptation options for national forest lands. The adaptation process is based on partnerships between local resource managers and scientists who work collaboratively to understand potential climate change effects, identify important resource i...
Conference Paper
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Background/Question/Methods Species distribution models are commonly used to project the ranges of species of concern into the future, but unlike within-era projections to the same region, their accuracy cannot be assessed because of lack of data from the future. One method for testing projections across time is to project ranges based on data col...
Article
Managing forested ecosystems in western North America for adaptation to climate change involves options that depend on resource objectives, landscape conditions, sensitivity to change, and social desires. Strategies range from preserving species and ecosystems in the face of change (resisting change); managing for resilience to change; realigning e...